What does the WCD Report Say?
Both the product and the process of the WCD broke new ground in the struggle over water and energy resources. Not only did the Commission illuminate why there have been costly controversies in the past, it showed how all parties could forge clear agreement in the future.
The Reports thesis: While dams have delivered many benefits and made a significant contribution to human development, in too many cases the price paid to secure those benefits, especially in social and environmental terms, has been too high and, more importantly, could have been avoided. Applying a balance-sheet approach to assess the costs and benefits of large dams that trades off one group's loss with another's gain is seen as unacceptable, particularly given existing commitments to human rights and sustainable development.
In proposing a way forward beyond the prevailing conflicts, the Commission provides a new framework for decision-making based on recognizing the rights of, and assessing the risks to, all stakeholders. It encompasses the concept that those adversely affected should participate in the planning process and have a share in project benefits.
Based on these rights and risks approach, the Commission developed seven strategic priorities and associated policy principles to guide decision-making. These form the core of the Commission's recommendations and a basis for dialogue at national and local levels. In support of these policy principles, it identified 26 advisory guidelines based on good practice from around the world.